Regardless of how well Doom sells on the Switch, it along with Skyrim, LA Noire and the upcoming Wolfenstein II are very important titles for Nintendo. The fact these games are running on the system is an incredible achievement in its own right. More importantly, it demonstrates Nintendo’s willingness to work with third parties and bring titles to the Switch that would normally not appear on the company’s supposed “kiddie focused” consoles. As one would expect, Doom does have some concessions for it to work on the Switch, but the end product is still a quality title that will appeal to anyone who wants demon slaying action on the go.
For those that haven’t played Doom on PS4, Xbox One or PC, the game acts as a reboot for the franchise. There is a loose story involving the player waking up in a facility on Mars to discover it has become overrun by demons. The player must find how the demons have invaded the facility and put a stop to the threat. There is a slightly deeper story for those that explore every nook and cranny the game has to offer, but otherwise the plot is just there to set the scene.
Doom’s real appeal comes from its frantic run-and-gun action. Unlike modern shooters that rely on shoot and cover tactics, Doom prides itself on being straight forward and frantic. Players essentially move between areas and shoot all demons in their path to proceed. If you stop moving for even a few seconds the demons will make short work of your health meter, so the main appeal here comes from running, jumping and climbing all over the place to outmaneuver demons while shooting them. Once a demon’s health drops significantly enough, players have the opportunity to perform a satisfying execution move which will reward you with small heath and ammo pick ups. There are of course plenty of weapons throughout the campaign, including assault rifles, shotguns, pistols and naturally, the almighty rocket launcher. Ammo can become quite scarce if you go charging in with guns blazing, so being mindful of your resources and mastering each weapon plays a huge part in your ultimate victory.
While on the surface the gameplay may seem a bit shallow, it’s actually incredibly satisfying vanquishing foes as the action never skips a beat. Between areas the action does slow down and allows for exploration opportunities, set up as basic platformer-like segments. It’s here you can uncover weapon upgrades and mods, as well as hidden collectibles including miniature toy versions of the main protagonist. It’s a welcome break from the action and adds some variety to the main gameplay.
There are also various online multiplayer modes, which are designed to harken back to the days of Quake and Unreal Tournament. Here players duke it out in team and solo arena style matches; competing to control a moving zone (think King of the Hill), play deathmatches, and take control of nodes in Domination. Learning the layout of maps including weapon and pick up locations is the key to gaining the upper hand, though it does alienate newcomers somewhat as they’ll struggle to compete with veterans who hog all resources. There is a Doom-themed gimmick in the multiplayer modes via the inclusion of demonic possession. At random moments a demon rune will appear on the map, and the first player to obtain it will turn into a demon. The demon is almost guaranteed to one-hit kill all opponents, offering a somewhat unfair advantage to the player or team who snags the rune. Other than that, the multiplayer is standard flare for a FPS and it’s going to be a like it or hate it scenario for most players. It’s worth noting that if you purchase a physical copy of Doom, you will be required to download a 9GB update to play the multiplayer modes as this part of the title is not included on the game cart.
The original Doom on PS4, Xbox One and PC featured a solid 60fps frame rate, but this has been condensed to 30fps on the Switch. For the most part the console does a good job in maintaining a smooth gameplay session (yes, even in handheld mode), but when there are a lot of enemies on screen or you’re in a larger environment there is noticeable slow down. It doesn’t get too bad apart from a few key sections towards the end of the campaign, but it is something you should be wary of.
Textures in the Switch version have also been downgraded, meaning environments and objects aren’t quite as detailed as they are on other systems. The Switch version looks blurry and not quite as appealing to the eyes in comparison, and at times enemies seem to blend in with the background when they are of similar colour scheme. Given the fast, frantic action of the gunplay this can be annoying as it’s easy to miss targets. But ultimately, the game is still playable and it’s a small sacrifice to get it working to the reasonable standard that it is on the less powerful Switch console.
The Switch version of Doom is missing SnapMap which allowed users to create custom maps and edit game logic, then share them online with other players. Aside from this, the game includes all content from all other versions, including DLC and general patches to fix previous gameplay bugs.
If you’re looking for a portable version of Doom or simply have no alternative options, then the Switch version comes highly recommended as it stacks up quite well despite the concessions made to get it running on the system. You can expect a frantic, solid campaign that is one of the best shooters around. Unfortunately the frame rate issues and lower texture detail means it doesn’t quite stand out when compared to versions on other platforms.
- Solid, frantic campaign - Almost all content from other versions is included - A portable version of Doom
- Some frame rate issues - Lower texture detail compared to other versions